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Featured Signature Projects

Westie Water Wars

Westie Water Wars

Margaret Hoyt

Marion Sweeney

Margaret Hoyt Rustrian is Boston's AT&T Web Advisor for the Teacher's Network. She teaches Television Production in the Media Magnet program at West Roxbury High School where she designed the course syllabus for a hands-on integration of English Language Arts skills and video/computer technology. Maggie is National Board Certified, English Language Arts /Young Adults. She is a Massachusetts Master Teacher, a Boston Lead Teacher and a Mentor to several beginning teachers. She has been a member of the National Faculty, a MetLife Fellow and honored as Boston's Human Rights Teacher of the Year. She is active in the arts community as liaison to Suskind Young at Arts at the Wang Center in Boston and leads the Culture Club at WRHS. After nearly thirty years, Maggie loves teaching because kids and the arts are her passion.

Marion Sweeney is a BPS Lead Teacher and 30 year veteran, Marion Sweeney has been a science faculty member at East Boston, English and West Roxbury High Schools. Her professional affiliations include national, state and local Science Teachers Associations, Boston Teachers Union, and Delta Kappa Gamma. Marion, a semi finalist for Massachusetts Teacher of the Year in 1997, was nominated for the Presidential Award for Mathematics and Science Teaching in 1995 and 1998. She has achieved National Science Teacher Association Certification in the areas of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Physical Science, Earth /Space Science, and Broadfield Science at the middle, junior, and high school levels.

Project Information


West Roxbury High School


Media and Communications Technology


Television Production I & Chemistry


Grade 11


Key Questions:

How is water a precious commodity of life and how does it act as a common denominator in a community? How can responsible citizens use new media to create a Water Bill of Rights and Responsibilities?


Television I and Accelerated Chemistry students explore an interdisciplinary year-long unit on water, responsible citizenry and using new media to promote the construction of viable communities. The project utilizes a Service Learning methodology requiring high school students to model learning to a fifth grade Spanish Bilingual class. This unit includes the following topics and themes:

  1. Analysis and documentation of existing water supplies
  2. Comparison of water availability in different communities
  3. Relationship of life style and consumption
  4. Value of conservation and recycling
  5. Power of media to influence behavior and build cohesive communities

EPA technicians regularly test water conditions. Information is documented in a database, graphed and often witnessed by a TV crew for news broadcast.The issue of water quality and conservation is meaningful to students because new media empowers them to have a voice in their democracy.

Academic Rigor

What Learning Standards and School to Career Competencies are used in this project?

English Language Arts

  • Identify and employ references, including primary documents, secondary sources and information technologies
  • Make connections between reading and personal experiences
  • Understand the writing process and employ structures of language effectively
  • Communicate results obtained by observation, questioning, and interviewing through oral presentation
  • Understand, analyze, evaluate and respond to oral presentations
  • Make effective presentations
  • Employ effective research and study skills
  • Conduct effective discussions
  • Analyze, interpret and evaluate literature
  • Understand and use the writing process effectively
  • Understand and express different points of view
  • Employ arts to communicate thoughts and beliefs


  • Design and conduct scientific investigations
  • Evaluate social or personal issues in terms of how science can and cannot contribute to their clarification and resolution
  • Analyze, interpret and evaluate data

Media Technology

  • Use video and computer technology to solve real problems facing real people today
  • Employ various formats and technologies to complete and enhance work
  • Explore career options in new media, science and technology

School to Career Competencies

 Communicate and understand ideas and information
 Collect, analyze and organize information
 Identify and solve problems
 Use technology
 Initiate and complete entire activities
 Act professionally
 Interact with others
 Understand all aspects of an industry
 Career and life choices

Applied Learning

How do students apply what they have learned and researched to a complex problem (e.g.: designing a product, improving a system, creating an exhibit, organizing an event)?

  • The key question challenges students to use video and computer technology to solve real problems facing real people today.
  • Students acquire fundamental knowledge about water testing, writing, camera operation and editing.
  • Students create 30 second PSA messages for broadcast on TV.
  • Students develop skills in writing, editing, camera and teamwork, critical to employment in media.
  • Students access Internet and various computer applications including video editing, video camcorders, digital cameras and scanners.

Active Exploration

Classroom Activities

  • Water test and document procedures on video.
  • Students use computer and Internet research methods, surveys and press conferences to gather pertinent information.
  • Research issues on Internet Electric Library, Galenet, and World Wide Web search engines ( Products: webography of websites; articles annotated.
  • Create and administer surveys and chart result.
  • Write a team script with visual, i.e. storyboard for water conservation campaign.
  • Production of TV news feature with editorials, 30-60 second Public Service Announcement (PSA) or Talk Show. Product: Script includes video and audio track, special effects and production roles.
  • Collect props, design sets, identify sound effects/music, rehearse, polish production plan. Products: Prop checklist, set design sketch, sound on tape, production role sign-in and timetable.
  • Produce video. Products: News feature, editorials, PSA and Talk Show.
  • Integrate new data from retesting water and documentary results. Products: Comparative graphs and documentaries included in script.
  • Produce video. Products: News feature, editorials, PSA and Teen Talk Show.

Community Activities

  • Learning Festival with themes of Utopian Communities and Recycle
  • Students conduct interviews with family, Ohrenberger Elem. School buddies and professionals.
  • Game show, Westie Water Wars, is part of Service Learning Festival.
  • Exchange E-mail with Mexican and local elementary buddies and share project progress. Products: E-mail letters including photo.
  • WHDH and WCVB partnerships offer regular program support.
  • Professionals offer technical and creative expertise and inspiration for students to aim for high standards.
  • Students meet with and visit professionals through shadows and see an expert in action.
  • Assemble E-Buddies mail and photos for publication. Product: Chat books on water conversation.
  • Ohrenberger and Westie buddies share their activities with the parents at a community breakfast.
  • Student buddies create a bulletin board in the elementary school to publicize the activities of the two groups.
  • Students share their video products with Ohrenberger buddies.

Career Activities

  • Invite water specialist to help identify, plan and discuss parameters of the issues. Students learn from professionals and gather scientific and career information first hand.
  • Students connect to National Academy for Television Arts and Sciences, Creating Critical Viewers project, BNN, WHDH and WCVB.
  • Build a PowerPoint production for the school with the assistance of college students and technology teacher.
  • Set up a career bureau with guest speakers from TV and Science to talk to students about their work, education and background. overall in an informal Q & A session in the TV studio.
  • Share work with professionals for expert feedback and troubleshooting ideas; Edit and proofread segments of production.
  • Students invite water specialists to examine their work and critique it from a professional perspective.
  • Students invite TV professionals to screen video and critique for career standards.

Adult Connections

Who from the community, workplace or postsecondary or industry partnership do students work with on the project?

  • WHDH and WCVB partnerships offer regular program support.
  • Professionals offer technical and creative expertise and inspiration for students to aim for high standards.
  • Students meet with and visit professionals as shadows and see an expert in action.
  • Students interact with teachers from the elementary school.


How do you and the students know the project is a success?

  • Teacher reviews student ability to individually perform six water quality tests from LaMotte water testing kit and UEI protocol manual.
  • Student teams evaluate products (computer slide shows, docucerts, video tape) along with organization and presentation skills at learning festivals and conference.
  • Students use a task description with a rubric to assess projects. The goal is a 4!
  • Students participate in developing the rubric to make it clear and unequivocally fair. They have a stake in their success.
  • Students keep notebooks, portfolios and floppy disks for regular progress review.
  • Students produce an Internet Webography, video documentary, PSA storyboards and 30 sec. PSA's evaluated by professionals.
  • Students keep notebook that is critiqued and evaluated by teacher and/or professionals of annotated research sources; Portfolio products include video treatment, storyboard, script and video production, and video production steps; Video screening and Oral review
  • Students make journal entries: describe, analyze and reflect on personal practice; Task description/Did I? sheets: Web map, research, questionnaire/survey, E-Buddies communication. Feedback provided by teacher.

Recommended Resources / Sample Products - EXAMPLES

Software or Materials Needed

  • Conduct Internet searches for information related to project
  • E-mail Water Buddies with news updates
  • Word process and edit scripts, reports and presentations using Clip Art, Freehand, Inspiration and other graphics tools
  • Use digital camera to document the project and save in an Ofolio Album on the Web
  • Video tape water testing using VHS format
  • Edit video using nonlinear video Avid or MC Express technology
  • For docucerts: digital camera, Microsoft PowerPoint, PhotoShop, Word Art and the Internet
  • For water testing: LaMotte Water Monitoring Equipment

Websites Used; for water cycle information and classroom activities and conservation tips

Water Wizards and Water Watchers from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority along with student list of websites on water; for science songs on tape
The Chemistry Song Bag tape by Michael Offut; for more Science Songs including Beth's Rock Collection Songs of Science for our Times: Dr. Chordate Sings Science Meets Music for an Education in Fun


Did I? sheets to evaluate news writing, scripts, production practices, career competencies, video projects, research and teamwork.


Students use logs, keep records, write in journals, photos and videos that show the project. The class uses Inspiration and also is producing a PowerPoint presentation.

Signature Projects

Overview of Featured Projects    Website Project    STC Pathway Video    Westie Water Wars    Business Plan (NFTE)    One in a Million Class Fund    Mary Baker Eddy Library Entryway Structural Design    From pH to Parkland    Books and Bookings    Children's Books    Codman Square Lead Contamination Initiative    Narrowing the Digital Divide    Tech Assist

Characteristics of Signature Projects     AUTHENTICITY - Key Questions
  ACADEMIC RIGOR - Learning Standards    APPLIED LEARNING - Products, services, events
ACTIVE EXPLORATION:  Classroom Activities   Community Activities   Career Activities